Yes, Utrecht sign! You read my mind!
It wasn’t even a New Year’s Resolution, really. It was a moment necessity borne of a snowy day. We needed something to do. For the longest time, P hasn’t been into drawing with his crayons so much as just organizing them – but lately, we’ve had some successes with painting and colored pencils and I thought maybe… just maybe… if I sat with him and we did some drawings *together* and I maybe could finish some stuff I started way back in the first g-ddamn trimester…
AND IT WORKED.
Now, I did find out quickly that I have to either take myself down a few notches and use his pencils or allow him to use my markers because there is just no “THIS box is Mama’s and THIS box is Paulo’s” that will work. The point here is to be doing something together, not to be having a tantrum… so… yeah, *sigh* he uses my precious, precious markers. (I use Pitt Artist’s Pens by Faber Castell – best markers in all known and unknown universes, but they are $3/ea and when he pushes in the tip I have been known to make some noises deep in my soul.)
Of course, this is where I put in the plug that as an artist myself and as someone who was raised with “real” art supplies, I absolutely advocate for giving kids REAL art supplies when they can handle them. P is actually very, very good with my markers and he loves the feel of the marker on the paper. Yes, a few tips have been pushed in – but the markers still *work* and it is indeed a learning process to learn to be gentle with your tools.
Of course OF COURSE this means that right now, in my own work, I’m constrained to what supplies I feel are appropriate for sharing with Paulo. No way no how am I dragging out my acrylic paints when he would go through a whole tube in a hot second. We’ll stick to painting with his finger paints and I’ll save my own painting ambitions for some other time. I’m really *itching* to do some more collage work, but I’m going to have to hold off for now as scissors aren’t quite up his alley yet. In a few months when I can get him his own little scissors, we’ll try some collage projects, but he just doesn’t have the grip yet. It will be interesting – to say the least – to see how the constraint of “scissors for a 3yr old” affects my work, but I may cheat and go back and trim with the exacto when he’s asleep.
ANYHOW. What we’ve been up to:
I Draw: Fetal mermaid. BabyGirl’s movements feel very “swimmy” to me and in a series of drawings I’ve been putzing around with, this is the one I’m happiest with the finished product. (Also the first I’ve actually been able to *finish* in a very long time!) She’s kind of got a “Keith Haring meets Georges Seurat” thing going on – I had done some others with single color sections and they just looked so flat, I needed a way to get some more texture going on with such simple shapes. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and I must say that the pointillist technique is ideal for stopping/starting/stopping/starting/stopping the way that you have to do when you’re working with a toddler and he needs help or loses interest or wants to color all afternoon but only for three minutes at a time. The only drawback is that this tiny drawing (one standard Moleskine page) took over a week to finish because the process is so painstakingly futzy. Eh, whatever, it’s not like I’m on a deadline.
He Draws: Just like I have my Moleskine, I found a little paperback Moleskine (as opposed to the bound leathery cover one I have) in our closet and gave it to Paulo so he could feel like he was working “just like” Mama. It *works* in terms of getting him to keep his filthy paws out of my sketchbook (more or less. A few drawings have already had some… details… added. C’est la guerre.) He will actually at this point ask for “BOOOOOOOOOOK” and mean his sketchbook. He loves it.
Major bonus: since he’s working with archival markers on acid free paper, these little books will last forever. It’s an easy fix to the “OMG my kid creates sixteen pictures per day which ones do I KEEP” problem. Anything he puts in the book is automatically saved. I highly, highly recommend doing this with kids – with a real sketchbook and some nice pencils, you’ll have a record of their work that takes exactly no effort whatsoever to keep track of or store.
When P does “paintings” outside of his book… I’ll confess, they mostly get tossed. I do take pictures of the stuff I like the best to have a record of his artistic work, but even I am not keeping “Nocturne in Muddy Brown” nos. 1 – 999. I highly, highly recommend taking digital photos of anything your children do with non-archival materials so that even if you do store the original, if/when it fades in a few years, you can at least make a print of the photo. Archival materials are admittedly pricey and since almost every parent has a cellphone camera, this is a really cheap way to ensure that you’ll have copies of your kids’ work years down the line. If you’re REALLY ambitious, you can even print out books of your kiddo’s creations. I like this *idea* but let’s face it, I haven’t even done this with my own stuff as of yet.
ANYHOW. P fills at least a page a day, usually more. So his output is outpacing mine by several degrees of magnitude. I’m not going to spam you with every single page that he’s done (though they’re all impressive and masterpieces and HEY COME BACK HERE LOOK AT THE MOVEMENT OF THAT LINE IT’S GENIUS), so this is just a little selection. He really likes watching the marker/pen *move* and so his pages are really very gestural for a man of his age. A lot of kids scribble, but he’s very intentional in his mark making. Where we run into trouble with the marker tips is when he feels like making more pointed marks on the page and AAHHHH GENTLE GENTLE WITH THE MARKER AHHHH. Still, the results are striking, so I can hardly argue with his methods.
Another big advantage of photographing his work is that these pages have all changed quite a bit since I took these and I have a record of progress. I certainly don’t do this with each page – I will probably go back tomorrow and take some more pictures in daylight (I swear I had more than three on my phone, but nope, just these) to show some of the more recent pages, but I’m not meticulously hovering with the phone. It’s just nice to step back when he’s at a point where I’m really interested with the page to snap a quick picture and let him get back to it.
After all, he’s practically already famous. He’s already got his first show! Our local librarian gave him a box of crayons and in return, I had him draw a picture for her. She was sweet enough to hang it up in the library – so there he his, not even 3 and he has work on display! Go Monsieur le Whuff!